As part of the process to re-determine RiverOak Strategic Partners’ Development Consent Order application to reopen Manston Airport, the Department for Transport has today (Friday 11 June) published a Statement of Matters, outlining the topics on which they would like further information on from RSP as the applicant, together with any other interested parties, as they are required to do by law.

The topics are:

  • The extent to which current policies inform the level of need
  • Whether need has been affected by changes since 9 July 2019
  • Effect of the sixth carbon budget
  • Any other matters since 9 July 2019 that interested parties consider are material

RSP welcomes publication of the Statement of Matters and their limited scope, and intends to submit a detailed response on the four points by the DfT’s deadline of 9 July.

Tony Freudmann, director of RSP, said: “The need for Manston has grown significantly since July 2019 and this is an important opportunity to set out just how vital the airport can be to our national resilience.

“Over the last two years, we’ve seen the impact of Brexit on the UK’s ability to trade effectively, with lorries queuing at the ports – and so the expected impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union, that we set out in our original application, has now been proven.

“What we hadn’t, of course, anticipated in our original proposals, was the impact of a global pandemic – and how vulnerable as a nation we are without direct airfreight services on all of our key supply routes. We argued that it is unsustainable to continue to rely on passenger aircraft to move vital goods and services into and out of the country, but COVID-19 has proven this argument beyond doubt. Using dedicated airfreight connections, which do not rely on (the far more fragile) passenger services, for our most vital goods and supplies – must become central to the UK’s resilience as an island nation if we are to avoid a repetition of the continuing import and export challenges we’ve faced over the past eighteen months.

“Even prior to the pandemic, global e-commerce was growing at unprecedented rates. In the last five years it has doubled – and increasing customer demand for rapid delivery and return of products purchased online only adds to the growing pressure to provide additional air cargo capacity and will continue to do so long after the pandemic is over.

“Manston will be purpose-built and ideally located to be London and South East’s specialist air freight hub, offering freight forwarders and cargo airlines the chance serve the UK directly. We look forward to providing detailed evidence of this growing need for Manston, to the DfT, in our response.”